The face of Lincoln



If a face can tell us anything, Lincoln’s face says it all, doesn’t it?  Although-we have grown accustomed to his “look.” We have lived with his image so long that we don’t really study his face-at all.  When was the last time you looked at “good ole’ Abe” on a five dollar note? It is harder to see Lincoln on the penny- but we’re used to that image also. Funny thing, I’ve mentioned before that Lincoln was not considered a handsome man. I’ve even mentioned that Lincoln, himself, thought his face was quite homely.  Yet, when I’ve stated these things about Lincoln-and what he thought of his own physical looks-people are somewhat taken aback-  “Lincoln, ugly?” So, what do we see when we see an image of Lincoln? What do we think when he see his face?

Our mental connection when exposed to Lincoln’s face varies from person to person. I don’t think, as I’ve indicated, that people merely look at his actual physical looks. I think individuals form an opinion of Lincoln, probably early on, and that opinion becomes a core thought about him. Afterward, exposures to Lincoln’s face inspire those core thoughts. People look beyond what their eyes are seeing and the mind brings to consciousness their core beliefs regarding him. So, for instance, if a person’s core thought about Lincoln is that “he freed the slaves”-then that thought will be activated when the person sees Lincoln’s image. This process seems altogether human-and is probably a “hard-wired” activity meant for an individual’s survival. Our brains need to develop understandings about everything. So in the name of expediency, the brain “sizes up” things and creates beliefs that arise, when needed, in short statements to our consciousness. If a person comes across a tiger in the jungle, the brain sends an immediate “automatic thought” that probably signals “Run!’  A thought that is short and “to the point.” The mechanism is survival based-but the brain also  operates that way in “non-survival” situations. Therefore, when a person sees an image of Lincoln, the brain says: “he freed the slaves.”  Unfortunately, without further mental reflection, a person will not consider anything else about the image of Lincoln. Besides, we all live in a fast-paced world. We see something, give it a fleeting thought, and move on.

So what is in the face of Lincoln? I suppose, whatever a person perceives to be there-whatever the preconceived notions are. Being human, our preconceptions may actually be in error. People don’t typically stop to think that their understanding may be false. After all, whatever is believed by anyone seems reasonable to them, even if in reality the beliefs are wrong. So what is in the face of Lincoln?  You tell me what you see-and you will be telling me something, perhaps a lot-about yourself.  Your thoughts about Lincoln’s face reflect back on yourself-on who you are-and what you are. So, what do you think when you see the face of Lincoln?

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